clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL playoff scenarios: 16 ways the Detroit Lions can clinch postseason in Week 15

The Detroit Lions can clinch their first playoff berth since 2017 with a win over the Denver Broncos and some help.

Chicago Bears v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

At 9-4, the Detroit Lions are on the precipice of their first postseason appearance since 2016. As of right now, only one team in the NFL—the San Francisco 49ers—has clinched their playoff ticket. But the Lions are one of four teams (Ravens, Cowboys, Eagles) who can join them this week.

There are 16 different scenarios that could happen that would guarantee a playoff berth for the Lions in Week 15.

Let’s start with the seven that involve a Lions win over the Broncos:

  1. Lions win + Vikings loss/tie + Seahawks loss/tie
  2. Lions win + Packers loss/tie + Seahawks loss/tie
  3. Lions win + Rams loss/tie + Seahawks loss/tie
  4. Lions win + Vikings loss/tie + Buccaneers loss/tie + Rams loss/tie
  5. Lions win + Vikings loss/tie + Falcons loss/tie + Rams loss/tie
  6. Lions win + Falcons loss/tie + Packers loss/tie + Rams loss/tie
  7. Lions win + Packers/Bucs tie + Rams loss/tie

Here are the relevant NFC matchups in Week 15 for rooting purposes:

  • Broncos (7-6) at Lions (9-4) — Saturday
  • Vikings (6-7) at Bengals (7-6) — Saturday
  • Buccaneers (6-7) at Packers (6-7)
  • Falcons (6-7) at Panthers (1-12)
  • Commanders (4-9) at Rams (6-7)
  • Eagles (10-3) at Seahawks (6-7) — MNF

In short, root for the Lions to win, and as many of the 6-7 NFC teams to lose. The good news is that one of the Buccaneers or Packers will lose or tie this week, which is just one small piece of the puzzle for a Lions playoff berth this week.

Here are the other nine scenarios that are available if the Lions TIE the Broncos:

  1. DET tie + TB loss + SEA loss + LAR loss
  2. DET tie + GB loss + SEA loss + LAR loss
  3. DET tie + LAR loss + SEA loss + ATL loss
  4. DET tie + GB loss + SEA loss + ATL loss or tie
  5. DET tie + MIN loss + SEA loss + LAR loss
  6. DET tie + GB loss + LAR loss + ATL loss or tie + NO loss or tie
  7. DET tie + GB-TB tie + MIN loss + SEA loss + LAR tie
  8. DET tie + GB-TB tie + MIN loss + SEA loss + ATL loss or tie
  9. DET tie + GB-TB tie + MIN loss + LAR loss + ATL loss or tie

There aren’t any scenarios in which the Lions can clinch the NFC North this week, however, they can clinch that next week if they simply just beat the Broncos on Saturday and then defeat the Vikings the following week.

Here’s a reminder of what the current NFC playoff picture looks like through 14 weeks of the 2023 season.

NFC Playoff Picture

Division leaders

  1. 49ers: 10-3
  2. Cowboys: 10-3
  3. Lions: 9-4
  4. Buccaneers: 6-7

Wild Card race (top three advance)

  1. Eagles: 10-3
  2. Vikings: 7-6
  3. Packers: 6-7
  4. Rams: 6-7
  5. Seahawks: 6-7
  6. Falcons: 6-7
  7. Saints: 6-7

Subscribe to PODD

After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.